Name: Chua Tee Yong
Years as MP: Since 2008
Government position: Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister (since 1 June 2010)
Labis division vice-chairperson
Presidential council member
Membership in parliamentary caucus or committee: None
Would you support the abolition/review of the Internal Security Act (ISA), in particular the provision that allows for detention without trial? Why or why not?
The ISA was put in place during the early days of our independence, and I would support a review of the Act to take into account current developing trends and terrorist threats. The provision for detention without trial should have safeguards and check and balance to avoid abuse by authorities.
What is needed is more transparency in the Act’s enforcement as the ISA’s basis is to protect Malaysia and its citizens.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
Although our country’s official religion is Islam, Article 11 of the constitution also guarantees the rights of other races to profess and practise their religions. We have a significant population of non-Muslims — around 40%; thus, Malaysia should be a secular state.
How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfil your role?
Malaysia is a developing country. Thus, an MP is not only involved as a legislator, but is involved in local issues, infrastructure development and basic necessities. The role is fulfilling as I have team members who work with me, thereby providing me more opportunities to help improve the local infrastructure and development in Labis.
Some argue that as MPs we are bogged down with constituency work, and also lack researchers or assistants and resources so that we are unable to perform [our roles] to our full extent. However, going [on the] ground also has its benefits as it allows us to understand problems that are caused by policies. [We can bring these] to the attention of the administration and Parliament for necessary action.
Considering the limitation of resources, we would have to make the best of what is provided to us, and try to both fulfil our roles as a legislator and as an elected representative to solve and address local problems.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?
I would support a Freedom of Information Act, but I do not believe in absolute freedom of access to information, especially in relation to defence and national security matters. The guiding rule should be that information should be available to the public if it is in the people’s best interests.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
The number of parliamentary researchers should be increased, and more time should be given to parliamentarians to analyse and debate bills, especially those that have wide-ranging effects.
Do you believe in separation of powers between the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
Yes, because each performs a different but complementary role, thus serving as a check and balance. The government implements and executes what is approved in Parliament, and the judiciary interprets and exercises the law.
There is a perception that Parliament is merely a rubber stamp as the majority of the MPs are from the Barisan Nasional (BN) while the judiciary system [needs] much [improvement]. It should be noted that Parliament does not act as a rubber stamp; BN MPs do not always support every bill tabled, and [we] propose changes whenever needed.
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